Pheidole ceres

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Pheidole ceres
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Pheidole
Species: P. ceres
Binomial name
Pheidole ceres
Wheeler, W.M., 1904

Pheidole ceres casent0102870 profile 1.jpg

Pheidole ceres casent0102870 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


According to Stefan Cover, ceres is found at higher elevations and in colder climates than any other Pheidole species in the western North American fauna. In southern Arizona it is often the only Pheidole occurring above 2250 m. Gregg (1963) reports ceres to be the most abundant Pheidole in Colorado, where it occurs in a wide array of habitats, including ponderosa pine forest, foothills meadowland, and sagebrush. Cover found the species in the same general habitats in Arizona and New Mexico. In Nevada G. C. and J. Wheeler (1986) found a colony at 2650 m in juniper-pinyon woodland. The ants collect and store seeds of a variety of grasses and herbaceous angiosperms. P. ceres nests in several types of open soil under rocks. Colonies are large and active, consisting of up to 1000 ants. Majors are numerous and most colonies are monogynous. P. ceres is also notable as the host of the workerles parasite Pheidole elecebra. Winged sexuals have been found in nests principally from early to the middle of July, with one record of males on 9 September. Winged reproductives have been found in nests throughout July, and a wingless queen was collected on 21 July, presumably following a nuptial flight. (Wilson 2003)


Mackay and Mackay (2002) - This is a small species (majors < 2.5 mm total length). Most of the head is striate, only the posterior part of the head and the tops of the posterior lateral lobes are shining. The mesosoma is predominantly punctate, the side and top of the pronotum are smooth and shining. The lateral connules of the postpetiole are weakly formed, but present. The dorsal surface of the gaster is smooth and glossy. The scapes extend about half of the length of the head. The scapes of the minor worker extend about one funicular segment past the posterior lateral corners, the dorsum of the head is nearly completely glossy, the side as well as the top of the pronotum are smooth and glossy, much of the remainder of the mesosoma is densely, and coarsely punctate. The major and minor are generally dark brown. The sculpture of the dorsum of the head of the major worker generally separates it from all other species. It could be confused with Pheidole marcidula, but can be separated, as the minors do not have clavate hairs on the dorsum of the mesosoma.

Also see the description in the nomenclature section.

Keys including this Species


Foothills of the Rockies in eastern Colorado at 1800–2600 m, southwest to the mountains of New Mexico and Arizona, at 2200–2700 m, as well as extreme eastern Nevada. Also recorded from the Davis Mts. of Texas but evidently rare there (Creighton 1950: 174), and from Guerrereo Mills, in the mountains of Hidalgo (tepaneca types). (Wilson 2003)

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 40.88° to 18.494005°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Nearctic Region: United States (type locality).
Neotropical Region: Mexico.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.


Mackay and Mackay (2002) - Ponderosa pine, ponderosa pine-riparian, Gamble oak, highly disturbed areas, including burned areas, between 1500 - 2,800 meters. It is also found in pinyon-juniper and sagebrush communities in northern New Mexico, often on south-facing slopes.


Flight Period

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Source: Wilson, 2003.

Association with Other Organisms

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  • This species is a host for the ant Pheidole elecebra (a workerless inquiline).
  • This species is a host for the eucharitid wasp Orasema wheeleri (a parasite) (Wheeler, 1907; Gahan, 1940; Baker et al., 2019; Universal Chalcidoidea Database) (primary host).
  • This species is a associate (details unknown) for the encyrtid wasp Pheidoloxenus wheeleri (a associate (details unknown)) (Quevillon, 2018).
  • This species is a host for the pteromalid wasp Pheidoloxenus wheeleri (a parasitoid) (Quevillon, 2018) (encounter mode unknown; direct transmission; transmission outside nest).


Minor Worker

Mcz-ent00670757 Pheidole ceres minor hef.jpgMcz-ent00670757 Pheidole ceres minor hal.jpgMcz-ent00670757 Pheidole ceres minor had.jpgMcz-ent00670757 Pheidole ceres minor lbs.JPG
Worker (minor). . Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.
Mcz-ent00668249 Pheidole ceres minor hef.jpgMcz-ent00668249 Pheidole ceres minor hal.jpgMcz-ent00668249 Pheidole ceres minor had.jpgMcz-ent00668249 Pheidole ceres minor lbs.JPG
Worker (minor). . Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Images from AntWeb

Pheidole ceres casent0102871 h 1 high.jpgPheidole ceres casent0102871 p 1 high.jpgPheidole ceres casent0102871 d 1 high.jpgPheidole ceres casent0102871 l 1 high.jpg
Worker (minor). Specimen code casent0102871. Photographer Jen Fogarty, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Pheidole ceres casent0282701 h 1 high.jpgPheidole ceres casent0282701 d 1 high.jpgPheidole ceres casent0282701 p 1 high.jpgPheidole ceres casent0282701 h 2 high.jpgPheidole ceres casent0282701 l 1 high.jpg
Worker (minor). Specimen code casent0282701. Photographer Adam Lazarus, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by EPEC.

Major Worker

MCZ-ENT00009078 Pheidole ceres hef.jpgMCZ-ENT00009078 Pheidole ceres hal.jpgMCZ-ENT00009078 Pheidole ceres had.jpgMCZ-ENT00009078 Pheidole ceres lbs.jpg
Lectotype of Pheidole ceresWorker (major). . Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.
Mcz-ent00668248 Pheidole ceres hef.jpgMcz-ent00668248 Pheidole ceres hal.jpgMcz-ent00668248 Pheidole ceres had.jpgMcz-ent00668248 Pheidole ceres lbs.JPG
Worker (major). . Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.
Mcz-ent00670663 Pheidole ceres major hef.jpgMcz-ent00670663 Pheidole ceres major hal.jpgMcz-ent00670663 Pheidole ceres major had.jpgMcz-ent00670663 Pheidole ceres major lbs.JPG
Worker (major). . Owned by Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Images from AntWeb

Pheidole ceres casent0282838 h 1 high.jpgPheidole ceres casent0282838 p 1 high.jpgPheidole ceres casent0282838 d 1 high.jpgPheidole ceres casent0282838 l 1 high.jpg
Worker (major/soldier). Specimen code casent0282838. Photographer Adam Lazarus, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by EPEC.
Pheidole ceres casent0102870 h 1 high.jpgPheidole ceres casent0102870 p 1 high.jpgPheidole ceres casent0102870 d 1 high.jpgPheidole ceres casent0102870 l 1 high.jpg
Worker (major/soldier). Specimen code casent0102870. Photographer Jen Fogarty, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by CAS, San Francisco, CA, USA.


The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • ceres. Pheidole ceres Wheeler, W.M. 1904a: 10 (s.w.q.m.) U.S.A. Senior synonym of tepaneca: Wilson, 2003: 570.
  • tepaneca. Pheidole ceres subsp. tepaneca Wheeler, W.M. 1914b: 46 (s.w.q.) MEXICO. Junior synonym of ceres: Wilson, 2003: 570.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.


From Wilson (2003): DIAGNOSIS A member of the “bicarinata complex” of the larger pilifera group, comprising Pheidole agricola, Pheidole aurea, Pheidole barbata, Pheidole bicarinata, Pheidole centeotl, Pheidole cerebrosior, Pheidole ceres, Pheidole defecta, Pheidole gilvescens, Pheidole macclendoni, Pheidole macrops, Pheidole marcidula, Pheidole paiute, Pheidole pinealis, Pheidole psammophila, Pheidole xerophila, Pheidole yaqui and Pheidole yucatana which complex is characterized by the large to very large, forward-set eyes, especially in the minor; and in the major, the occipital lobes lacking any sculpturing (except in aurea); the posterior half of the head capsule almost entirely smooth and shiny; and the postpetiolar node seen from above oval, elliptical, or laterally angulate (cornulate in cerebrosior).

P. ceres is distinguished within the complex by the following combination of traits. Dark to blackish brown.

Major: carinulae originating on the frontal triangle travel along the midline to the occiput; transverse carinulae present along the anterior lateral margins of the pronotum; mesonotal convexity and propodeal spines well-developed; postpetiole from above laterally angulate and diamond-shaped.

Minor: eyes moderately large; mesonotal convexity low but well-developed.

MEASUREMENTS (mm) Lectotype major: HW 1.14, HL 1.18, SL 0.66, EL 0.16, PW 0.54. Paralectotype minor: HW 0.54, HL 0.60, SL 0.54, EL 0.12, PW 0.34.

COLOR Major: body blackish brown, with brownish yellow clypeus; appendages brownish yellow to medium brown.

Minor: like the major, except that the clypeus is not yellow but dark brown and hence not contrasting.

Pheidole ceres Wilson 2003.jpg

Figure. Upper: lectotype, major. Lower: paralectotype, minor. Scale bars = 1 mm.

Lectotype Specimen Labels

Type Material

COLORADO: Colorado Springs, col. W. M. Wheeler, Museum of Comparative Zoology - as reported in Wilson (2003)


L Ceres, the pre-Roman goddess of agriculture, evidently in reference to the seed-harvesting practiced by the species. (Wilson 2003)


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Allred D. M. 1982. Ants of Utah. The Great Basin Naturalist 42: 415-511.
  • Allred, D.M. 1982. The ants of Utah. Great Basin Naturalist 42:415-511.
  • Beck D. E., D. M. Allred, W. J. Despain. 1967. Predaceous-scavenger ants in Utah. Great Basin Naturalist 27: 67-78
  • Cover S. P., and R. A. Johnson. 20011. Checklist of Arizona Ants. Downloaded on January 7th at
  • Dattilo W. et al. 2019. MEXICO ANTS: incidence and abundance along the Nearctic-Neotropical interface. Ecology
  • Fernandes, P.R. XXXX. Los hormigas del suelo en Mexico: Diversidad, distribucion e importancia (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).
  • Gregg, R.T. 1963. The Ants of Colorado.
  • Johnson R. Personnal Database. Accessed on February 5th 2014 at
  • Kempf, W.W. 1972. Catalago abreviado das formigas da regiao Neotropical (Hym. Formicidae) Studia Entomologica 15(1-4).
  • MacKay W. P. 1993. Succession of ant species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) on low-level nuclear waste sites in northern New Mexico. Sociobiology 23: 1-11.
  • Mackay W. P., and E. E. Mackay. 2002. The ants of New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 400 pp.
  • Mackay, W., D. Lowrie, A. Fisher, E. Mackay, F. Barnes and D. Lowrie. 1988. The ants of Los Alamos County, New Mexico (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). pages 79-131 in J.C. Trager, editor, Advances in Myrmecololgy.
  • Moody J. V., and O. F. Francke. 1982. The Ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) of Western Texas Part 1: Subfamily Myrmicinae. Graduate Studies Texas Tech University 27: 80 pp.
  • O'Keefe S. T., J. L. Cook, T. Dudek, D. F. Wunneburger, M. D. Guzman, R. N. Coulson, and S. B. Vinson. 2000. The Distribution of Texas Ants. The Southwestern Entomologist 22: 1-92.
  • Van Pelt, A. 1983. Ants of the Chisos Mountains, Texas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) . Southwestern Naturalist 28:137-142.
  • Vásquez-Bolaños M. 2011. Lista de especies de hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) para México. Dugesiana 18: 95-133
  • Wheeler G. C., and J. Wheeler. 1986. The ants of Nevada. Los Angeles: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, vii + 138 pp.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1904. Three new genera of inquiline ants from Utah and Colorado. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 20: 1-17.
  • Wheeler W. M. 1908. The ants of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. (Part I.). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 24: 399-485.
  • Wheeler, G.C. and J. Wheeler. 1985. A checklist of Texas ants. Prairie Naturalist 17:49-64.
  • Wilson, E.O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A Dominant, Hyperdiverse Genus. Harvard University Press